GCN Review: Mario Party 4
Review by: Hairball (hairball@sm128c.com)

Game Info

 System: GameCube
 ESRB: Everyone
 Genre: Board Game
 # of Players: 1-4
 Developer: Hudson Soft
 Publisher: Nintendo

 Save: 2 blocks

 Release Date:
 US: Oct 21, 2002
 EU: Nov 29, 2002

Screenshots:

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Final Score:
7.0/10

Reviewed on: August 11, 2003

It's pretty hard to believe that there has been a Mario Party release every year starting from 1999. Nintendo is now at the fourth installment of this ever popular series. And not long from now, a 5th release will be available.

Mario Party 4 is pretty much more of the same, if you have played the N64 incarnations of this game, you will not be in for much of a surprise. It's essentially the exact same game, exact same style, and the exact same characters.

Character-wise you get to choose from: Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Peach, Wario, and Donkey Kong. The new (or perhaps more recent) additions are Daisy and Waluigi. I can't remember if they were the N64 games, but those are the 8 characters you can choose from.

The point of the game has not changed a bit. You still choose a "board" to play on, and up to 4 characters can be a part of it. Various things happen, and after each turn there's a mini-game. Of course there could also be additional mini-games within the same turn. The person with the most stars, followed by coins wins the game! Woohoo!

What is a star? You could check my previous Mario Party reviews for the more in-depth explanations. But I will provide a brief rundown. Essentially the point of the game is to get the most stars, you can get a star by finding your trusty pal Toad on the board, pay him 20 coins, and in exchange you get a star. There are also other ways to achieve stars, such as stealing one, or just getting lucky. And you can get coins by walking around the board, and winning mini-games, or again doing the evil thing and stealing them.

The mini-games include: free for all (aka 4 player VS), 2 vs 2, and the ever entertaining 1 vs 3, as well as the Bowser mini-games, and other special mini-games. There are 50 mini-games in all! There are different types of mini-games; some require timing, quick responses, use of rumble, teamwork, and more... Each mini-game is different, and requires a different skill to succeed in. However, if you are familiar with playing video games, and learning quickly, it should not be a problem at all.

There are three main options to choose from when you start Mario Party 4. These consist of: Story mode, Mini-Game mode, Party mode. The Party mode is self-explanatory, but I have no idea why the Story mode exists, it's essentially the exact same as the Party mode, but for one player only.

Mario Party 4 looks a lot better compared to its N64 predecessors. Hudson Soft has increased the quality of the graphics, making use of better GameCube technology. There are all sorts of special effects, they are hard to describe once you get used to them. But everything in the game is very smooth, textured, and detailed. The characters are very well rendered, and look several times better than they used to be. The game interface is excellent; the menus are clear, concise, and easy to read.

The sound that you can hear in Mario Party 4 is not exactly astonishing, but is still fairly decent. Fans of the previous Mario Party games will know what to expect. Mostly music that fits the tone of the board, such as cheerful or gloomy music. Mini-games each have their own tones, depending on the theme. Each character still has their own voice throughout the game when different things happen. After all it is the fourth game in the series, the audio is still respectable.

In conclusion, Mario Party 4 is more of an extension to the Mario Party series, rather than a brand-new unique game. Obviously they didn't want to fix what wasn't broken with these series, by keeping most of the Mario Party formula intact; fans surely won't be overly disappointed in this offering. But, this is the type of game you want to play with a bunch of friends. It will get insanely boring if you only play against the computer. Mario Party 4 would be a great purchase if you constantly have your friends over to play games, but otherwise, it's probably only worth a weekend rental.

-- Hairball (hairball@sm128c.com)

Bottom Line: Mario Party 4 is not a bad game, but besides the graphics, and new mini-games, what makes it so different from the previous three games? You know the answer.